Thursday, August 26, 2010

Travel diary - Day 3

The last post ended with me and my sister staying overnight in Laupunen, which is pretty much on the half-way on our journey through the Southwestern archipelago. We are at the northeastern point of the route, and today I shall tell you about the southwards heading road. The day's journey of 150 km (much of it by ferries) was probably the most interesting and anticipated one out of all four days, because it is the furthest away from the continent and we entered the outer archipelago. That is where ships and rope ferries replace bridges and islands get small and distances between them get longer.

The third day, Monday, began with saying goodbyes with our kind hosts. After a couple of kilometers ride it was already time time for the first ferry crossing. It was a big ship called Aurora, and it was the second and the last ferry that cost money on the ring road. The day was half cloudy and rather warm, but the wind in the archipelago is very strong, so we got the chills as soon as we embarked on the ferry. So, if one goes to the archipelago, I recommend to take some warm clothes with them even in the middle of a heat wave.

Sea view from the ferry Aurora

We weren't without company that day either. While waiting for the first ferry, we saw a group of four cyclists that were taking the same route with us that day. Those people were almost on every ferry and raft that we used that day (total six of them). One of the cyclists rode this funny couch bike.

A more comfy way to ride a bike
Norrby nature trail

On Monday's route there were many sights to choose from, and the first place we decided to go to was the Norrby nature trail. It goes through several different environments that are typical to the archipelago, and on the way one can pick blueberries, wonder lichen species or admire the view. The whole experience peaked at the highest point of the island, on the Kasberget, which is a great lookout. There was a lookout tower and a map to which one could compare the amazing scenery of water and forested islands that opens up below the feet. After this not-too-difficult climb and having bellies full of blueberries in Norrby we continued the ride towards the town and visited the church. Now, a good thing about rural places is that one never knows what kind of wild life comes across to your path. Right after the visit to the local 300 years old church we sighted an eagle flying proud above the village on its territory. Only 30 years ago white-tailed eagle were almost extinct from Finland mainly because environmental pollution caused the eggs to crack. When there were only a few of them left, they were widely protected and provided for clean food during the winter, and nowadays there are several thousands of white-tailed eagles in Finland and some hundreds of new ones are born every year. Even though eagles are nowadays common, it still gives you the goosebumps to see the flight of this big and beautiful bird.

Iniö town church

As you can see, the other bike has fallen in front of the church because of a failing stand. While we were waiting for the next ferry, we met the group of four cyclists again. My sister, who is tall and blond and generally thought as pretty, greeted the group and gave them a little smile and a complaint of a bike that would fall on the ferry. Obviously, once my sister turned her charm on, they had no other choice but to fix the stand for us. Sometimes it is useful to have a pretty twin sister ;)

Romance on the Dalen -Mossala ferry

By the time we arrived at Houtskär we were rather hungry, and decided to have lunch some time soon. The day's ride had been quite enjoyable and effortless, so we had postponed lunch a bit, and got a recommendation of a place that is known of having the best burgers in the archipelago. We couldn't resist the lure of that. Unfortunately, the guest port of Näsby, where the restaurant was located in, was not easy to find. However, the burgers, even my veggie burger, were really good.

A rope ferry crossing at Houtskär
Boat sheds

After lunch we continued the ride heading east towards the Kittuis port, where the next, and the last, car ferry on our journey was to leave. The route was interesting, forested, and had hills of varying sizes. Unfortunately the weather was turning worse and I could feel a drop falling on the skin every now and then. We arrived at Kittuis just in time to see the ferry disappear behind a nearby island, what a luck! We were 5 minutes late. There we stood in the rain having smokes and wondering what to do next, and we found out that the next ferry leaves in 2,5 hours. There was a little shop/bar nearby, and we decided to go there to wait. We spent couple of hours drinking coffee, gossiping with the bartender and catching up with three days of missed news, and made it in time for the next ferry. BTW, Kittuis port is right next to an international ship route, so if you stop there for a coffee, you might see a passenger ship going to Maarianhamina and then to Stockholm, Sweden. Those ships are basically floating combined malls, hotels and bars, so it's a 24 hour party there.

Passenger ship on its way to Åland

In rainy Korppoo we had only a few kilometers left to ride before the town and our accommodation. The next time I'll tell you more about the town and a funny little thing with their bikes that you will find surprising and maybe even stupid. See you later again!

Day 4


Anonymous said...

Wow, that's really cool. I've never seen an eagle in wild nature. This archipelago area sounds like a great holiday location, away from the world for a while. How is the infrastructure there generally? Is it easy to find a place to eat and sleep or did you arrange all that beforehand? Is it actually carfree?

Sonja said...

We arranged the holiday in advance, meaning that we booked the rooms. If you are travelling outside the main holiday season, which would be July, you can find lofting rather easily without booking. There are restaurants and shops every now and then, so dining should not be a problem.

The ring road is not car free. Actually it is mainly ment for cars, so most of the time there is not even a bike lane, but the traffic isn't very bad there, so it's not a problem.

And it was really cool ;)

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